Mariposas En El Andamio (Butterflies on the Scaffold)

Margaret Gilpin and Luis F. Bernaza

1995, 74:00 minutes, colour, Spanish with English Subtitles


Mariposas En El Andamio is a rare view of what day-to-day life is like for the gay and drag community in modern Cuba. This award winning documentary is the first since the 1959 revolution to examine the issues gays and transvestites face in the context of evolving attitudes towards homosexuality in Cuba, where people are judged first on what they achieve for their country.

It is a highly unusual look at how a group of working class drag queens in a small town have become an integral part of their neighborhood.

Glamour gowns fashioned form sugar sack and eyelashes made of carbon paper are the reality of drag in Cuba. The journey moves from on-stage action and backstage preparation to insightful interviews with community leaders, the performers themselves and their families. With their stunningly emotive performances to the passionate music of Latin America, these queens really are like Butterflies on the Scaffold - vibrant , proud and unexpected.

In the Havana suburb of La Güinera, these performers managed to create a space for themselves. They gained their neighbours' respect by forging a coalition with the female leaders of the local construction brigade and performing in the workers dining room.

This is a remarkable and engaging film about social, human and cultural transformation.

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